Do you ever wonder why certain foods—"healthy" ones included—zap your energy and give you embarrassing digestive troubles? Well, you’re not alone. As a matter of fact, many of the health foods you've learned to love have a sneaky built-in defense mechanism…and it could be wreaking havoc on your insides.
Through many years of research, I've found that very small things can cause big health problems. That’s exactly the premise of my new book, The Plant Paradox: The Hidden Dangers of "Healthy" Foods That Cause Disease and Weight Gain, which shares how one plant protein could play a role in your health woes.
Meet lectins, the plant protein that could be harming your gut.
After nearly 20 years of researching the optimum nutritional treatments for myself and my patients, I’ve discovered lectins. These tiny proteins live inside certain plants and act as a defense mechanism by making their predator ill when eaten. I think they play a huge role in America’s health crisis.
A lectin is a type of protein (susceptible to various diseases, bacteria, and viruses) that forces carbs (sugars, starches, and fibers) to clump together and even attach to certain cells in your body when you eat them. Often, lectins can get in the way of important cells communicating with one another. And when that happens, the body’s response is usually inflammation or some other type of reaction to toxicity, like nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting. A break in cellular communication can also result in symptoms like fatigue or forgetfulness.
Trust me, 12 years ago, if I was reading my own book claiming that one tiny plant protein—in collaboration with other disrupters—was the cause of so much illness, such as diabetes, aching joints, Parkinson’s disease, depression, IBS, infertility, cancer, baldness, brain fog, weight gain, and more…I would have thrown it in the trash. However, after successfully treating tens of thousands of patients by cutting out lectins and adding polyphenol- and prebiotic-rich foods to their diet—I'm convinced. That is more than enough proof even for a perpetually skeptical mind like mine.
What common foods contain lectins?
So, where are these lectins lurking? Believe it or not, they are in many "healthy" foods, of all places! Whole wheat flour, cashews, legumes, eggplant, corn, brown rice, tomatoes, and sunflower seeds are just a few examples.
In the book, I go into great detail about which foods are "lectins bombs" and other pressing questions that include: If we’ve eaten wheat for thousands of years, why is it making us sick now? What has changed? How do lectins cause harm in the human body? How do you know if you are lectin intolerant? If you're still presenting symptoms after trying many other diets and plans, lectins could be to blame.
Here's how to reduce your lectin intake.
For our purposes today, I’d like to give you a few helpful tips in reducing your lectin intake (even if you are eating gluten-free—yes, gluten is a type of lectin!) with these common "healthy" foods that contain lectins:
Any of the nightshade vegetables are full of lectins. To reduce the amount in tomatoes, peel the skin and remove the seeds before eating.
2. Whole grain breads:
If you must have bread, it’s better to eat white bread than whole grain, seed, or wheat germ breads. I explain why in my book.
Make sure to pressure-cook them to eliminate much of the lectin content. Avoid canned or processed beans, such as a store-bought bean dip.
Cashews are not nuts at all but seeds. We are not meant to eat seeds of any kind. Instead, eat ¼ cup of pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts a day.
And of course, here are some plants that you should be eating regularly for their health-boosting qualities: olives and olive oil, leafy greens (kale, Swiss chard, spinach), cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli), and avocados.
Want to know if following the Plant Paradox diet will help you? The book comes out today, April 25, and is available nationwide. But for mindbodygreen readers, here’s an exclusive look at the introductory chapter.